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The Guardian by Joyce Sweeney

The Guardian

by Joyce Sweeney

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Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

Hunter has been tossed around the foster care system for as long as he can remember. He was four years old when he was sent to live in a Catholic orphanage. Since then, he has lived with a series of foster families. Most recently, he's been living with Mike and Stephanie. One of four foster children, life there is pretty good. That is until Mike has a stroke and dies.

Now, Hunter is living a nightmare. When her husband died, Stephanie became a totally different person. She was always a bit controlling and sometimes got carried away with discipline, but now that Mike isn't around to keep her in check, things are getting crazy. She expects all the kids to get jobs and help with family finances. Even little five-year-old Drew is being forced to enter kiddie beauty pageants and model to bring in money. When Hunter objects to Stephanie's plan to let some strange guy photograph Drew in exchange for portfolio headshots, Stephanie severely beats Hunter.

Thinking back to Mike's funeral and the mysterious motorcycle rider who rudely interrupted the service, Hunter begins to fantasize that he has a guardian angel. The dim memory of a tall, dark stranger who appeared to him on the day he was taken from his mother and sent to the orphanage provides fuel for Hunter's growing fantasy. Is there someone looking out for him? Continued sightings of the motorcycle rider and several mysterious email messages have Hunter revisiting childhood memories of the power of prayer and religion.

In THE GUARDIAN, Sweeney creates a powerful story about the importance of love and the feeling of family. Hunter's attachment to his foster siblings has him protecting them despite risks to his own physical well-being. Sweeney forces Hunter to examine the power of family love as he confronts the mysteries of his past. The stirring emotions and edge-of-your-seat action combine to make THE GUARDIAN one of Sweeney's best. ( )
  GeniusJen | Sep 29, 2010 |
It was about two-thirds into the book that I really started to get into the book. That was when the emotional high of Hunter finally reached its peak. Where the frustration, and so-called guardian, all came crashing down. It was exhilarating to finally see Hunter fighting back. Always the quiet and fearful one, Hunter defends himself against the one thing that held him back, his foster mother. So applause goes to Hunter for finding his hidden strength.

The characters were a bit off. I think the author portrayed the opposite ends of the spectrum at times. Either you’re the wonderful goody little two shoes, or the badass villain. It was, however, the emotional appeal that was the most compelling. The heartache of never truly fitting it, feeling like utter crap being passed around through families. The unknown of your actual birth parents like the thought of you being so unbearable that even your own flesh and blood cannot stand the sight of you. So the thoughts that the story provoked were I think were the story’s best strong point.

There were many scenes that were choppy and discombobulated and the characters made this story somewhat unlikable.

The ending was slightly disappointing, however. I felt it ended too perfectly. I also felt that Hunter’s response to his father, the guardian, was odd. At one point he was glad to be within his care, but then he does a complete 180 when he tells the cop that his father kidnapped him and he’s a murderer. Completely out of nowhere. ( )
  ylin.0621 | Feb 14, 2010 |
Hunter’s already precarious life in foster care is severely rocked when his foster father suddenly dies. With no one else to turn to for help in a moment of anguish, Hunter prays/cries out to “St. Gabriel”, the guardian angel he remembers meeting as a very young boy right before his mother gave him away. When his prayer is answered, Hunter is grateful but more than a little taken aback. Without giving everything away, librarians should know that this book starts fairly dark (Hunter and foster siblings are abused by foster mother) and gets darker as it goes along (Hunter’s “angel” turns out to be his biological father, who objected to Hunter’s being given up for adoption/foster care and is recently paroled for the murder of Hunter’s mother.) – although it does have a relatively HEA. Fast-paced read. Recommended. ( )
  NBLibGirl | Nov 10, 2009 |
Thirteen-year-old Hunter has been shuffled around different foster homes for most of his life. For the past few years, he has lived with his foster parents Stephanie and Mike and three siblings. Stephanie has always disliked Hunter, but she does not dare touch him with Mike around. Then, Mike dies, and Hunter must protect himself from Stephanie’s wrath. Luckily, there seems to be a mysterious force helping Hunter. The question is, do guardian angels truly exist?

Overall, I was satisfied. The writing is straight forward, and the novel is told in first person which created a raw feeling throughout the novel. I liked Hunter as a character. While his choice not to call social services sometimes frustrated me, I understood it. Under Stephanie’s roof, Hunter had a family. If he called social services, not only would he put himself back into the system, but also his sisters. Also, he was delusional. All of a sudden his life was getting better. Who’s to say his life with Stephanie could not get better?

My least favorite part of the novel was right after the climax. I do not want to spoil anything, but Sweeney chose to skip details about one important detail in the book. It felt like the novel skipped a chapter. Another thing I disliked were all the foster families Hunter lived with. Hunter was shuffled around because his foster parents. It gives foster families a bad reputation. Mike was the only good foster parent, and I’m amazing at the control he had over Stephanie! It’s almost unbelievable, now that I look back at it.

From what I’ve written above, it seems like I disliked The Guardian more than I liked it, but that’s not true. I actually did enjoy it. The plot was exciting, and I liked the guardian angel stuff. I just wished Sweeney spent more time tweaking it. ( )
  koalatees | Jun 19, 2009 |
Hunter is a 13 year old living with his abusive foster mother and three sisters. Things were going pretty well for him until his foster father dies. His foster mother becomes INCREASINGLY more abusive towards him, the bully at school raises the weekly fee, and because he can't stand it anymore he prays to that guardian angel he saw when he was four. But did he really see him? Is he imagining things or is his guardian angel really solving his problems? But do guardian angels seriously email people and scare a girl half to death? Hmm...curiouser and curiouser don't you think?
I really liked this book! I would say it's a quick, light read, but even thought it's 177 pgs long, there is nothing light about it. It can get intense, unpredictable, crazy, and even pull at your heart strings at times.
Many of the things that happened I just could never have predicted! It was just so surprising and sad!!! I really, really REALLY wanted things to end differently for him, but oh well. You will feel so sad for Hunter and by the time you've read the first ten pages, you'll be cheering for him and wanting him to just be happy. Trust me, it may start out slow but it gets intense then you just don't want to stop reading until you're finished and you find out what will happen with Hunter.
I highly recommend this book so go out and get it now!

Enjoy. :)
-tvandbookaddict.blogspot.com ( )
  robin123 | Apr 12, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805080198, Hardcover)

Hunter has never had anyone to look out for him. His mother gave him away when he was young, he’s never known his father, and his foster mother leaves a lot to be desired in the mothering department. So when a mysterious, benevolent force suddenly starts coming to his aid, Hunter doesn’t know what to believe. Could he really have a guardian angel? Hunter so badly wants someone to care that he’s willing to take a leap of faith, and more. But when he finally learns the truth about his angel, he’ll have to decide whether it’s the best thing that ever happened to him or the worst.

This masterful pairing of suspenseful, fast-paced storytelling with genuine compassion and heart is Joyce Sweeney at her best.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:11 -0400)

When thirteen-year-old Hunter, struggling to deal with a harsh, money-grubbing foster mother, three challenging foster sisters, and a school bully, returns to his childhood faith and prays to St. Gabriel, he instantly becomes aware that he does, indeed, have a guardian.… (more)

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